If you’re starting out as a freelance writer, the magazine market can seem daunting and full of uncertainties. Although there are plenty of opportunities to be published and paid, having a better understanding of the industry will enhance your chances of success. To help you on your way, here are a few pointers:
(1) Freelancing is all about numbers - the more projects you apply for, the better your chance of success.
(2) Gaining a commission depends on being able to offer material that will capture the editor’s attention.
(3) Your writing style needs to suit your publication’s requirements. This is why you should always study the magazine before you start writing the article.
(4) Editors prefer to commission material from writers who are familiar with the magazine and have followed the contributor guidelines.
(5) It doesn’t matter if you’re a new or firmly established writer; If you have the right material, the editor will buy!
(6) Good writing is crucial but you also need to pay attention to detail. Your copy should be free of typos and be well-presented.
(7) Do not expect a reply to every approach you make. Many editors will only respond if they are interested in taking things to the next stage.
(8) Instead of waiting for a response, move on to the next opportunity. Don’t waste time complaining about editors who never respond. Keep sending your work out!
(9) If you want a reply or the return of material submitted, send a stamped s.a.e. Bear in mind though that this is no guarantee that you’ll receive a response.
(10) Keep cover letters brief and professional in tone. Don’t forget to include your contact details.
(11) Submit your material for publication at the magazine’s usual rates. If you have an `exclusive’ however, you may command a higher fee. Make this known in your cover letter and mention that you’re happy to negotiate the fee.
(12) Keep a copy and a record of the material that you have submitted. Some articles do go astray.
(13) By all means, follow up on work submitted. Some magazines are inundated with material from freelance writers so expect to wait anything from between four to eight weeks on average to gain a response. After this time, send a polite email, letter or make a brief phone call to the magazine to follow-up.
(14) Some magazines may wish to hold-on to your work to consider for a future issue. Whether you wish to accept this arrangement is up to you. Most writers might agree to this realizing that it is a possible future commission.